Thursday, December 22, 2011

Louis C.K.'s new media success

So I've watched the first few episodes of Louis C.K.'s show Louis, and it is quite funny, although at times a little abrasive and melancholy (a weird combination). Oddly enough it's the abrasiveness and melancholy that make the show enjoyable (for me at least). That and Louis C.K. himself. He's a pretty funny guy.

I also find him, or at least his media personality, to be likable. I recently listened to this interview with him on Fresh Air, which is part of the reason I checked out the show. He seems like a genuinely nice guy.

Which is one of the reasons I find this story to be so exciting. C.K. announced that he would be filming a stand up movie and selling it via his website for $5, cutting out any middle-man in the distribution process. No network to deal with. No distributor. No theater. No stores. Just him and the production crew.

This was a gamble that appears to have paid off. C.K. has made over $1 million on the project.

I find this story really exciting for a few reasons.

1) the use of new media for distribution

2) the affordability of the product to make it more accessible to his fans

3) he cut out corporate media and managed to be successful without them

From these first three points, I wonder if we might be seeing a new business model forming for media content. Something that is profitable, affordable and makes it easier to distribute content to a wide audience.

4) he's sharing the profit with the people who worked on the project

5) the fact that the fans spent their hard earned money to support him, he not only circumvented corporate media, he also circumvented file sharing

6) he is putting so much of that money into charity

The significance of the last three points is summed up in something C.K. says in this article, something that needs to be said more often in America these days. It is a sort of radical statement right now, although a simple one that is subversive when you think about it. C.K. says,

I never viewed money as being “my money” I always saw it as “The Money” It’s a resource. if it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system.
You don't hear many Americans, especially those who have a lot of money "pooled up around them" talking about "flushing it back out into the system." He is of course making a good pay check from this, as he should. He worked hard and created something people liked and were willing to pay for. He earned his pay day and I say congratulations to him.

But he is also acknowledging it was made possible by the crew who worked on it and that the money it made can do good out in the world, rather than just sitting in his bank account.

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